4 New Email Engagement Measures plus Industry Benchmark to Assess Your Performance (and Your Competition’s)

Soon the lazy days of summer will be ending for kids all over the US and homework and tests will be just around the corner. And while formal testing ends when school is over, life after former schooling continues with different types of comparisons. From the sports teams you support to how well you performed in a job interview. And for those in the email industry, your email program is continually compared to the competition.

So, how can you really gauge the success of your program vs. the competition? While benchmarks on specific metrics like open and click through rate can provide some information, a true overall measure of your program can be difficult to obtain. As my colleague wrote about a couple of months ago, Return Path has an exciting new metric to help marketers determine how they measure up to their competition. The Engagement Benchmark  is based on a variety of deliverability and engagement metrics including (but not limited to):

  1. user-marked spam
  2. ISP-marked spam
  3. read rate
  4. delete without reading

The more engaged subscribers are with your email messages and the more messages that are delivered to the inbox, the higher your engagement benchmark. After taking into account all the metrics, emails in our system are scored on a five-point scale with “Excellent” being the best and “Poor” being the worst.


We calculate the engagement benchmark at both the campaign level and on your email program as a whole as long as meets a certain threshold. In addition, we calculate the engagement benchmark for your competitors’ overall email programs and their individual campaigns as well as several industry categories. With the benchmark, you can easily see how you stack up against the competition and can also easily measure individual campaigns against your competition and your industry.

The beauty of the engagement benchmark is that it not only accounts for what subscribers did with their emails (e.g., read it, deleted it, marked as spam, etc.), it takes into consideration where the email was delivered (spam folder or inbox). A successful email program must factor in both engagement and deliverability metrics and the benchmark allows you to see which campaigns and marketers are running world-class programs and use these insights to keep your email program performing optimally.  If your emails aren’t getting to the inbox, you’re missing a huge opportunity to increase subscriber engagement.

So, how engaged were subscribers with emails over the past few months?  We looked at 11 categories over the last four months to gauge how marketers’ email programs performed over the summer. Several categories (education, jobs, news, real estate, shopping, and travel), saw a drop in engagement in July and did not see a recovery in August. Not surprisingly, travel emails saw a drop in engagement in July and August as the summer travel months wind down. However, the drop in engagement for shopping is a bit surprising given that back-to-school sales are in full swing during July and August. Not surprisingly, Finance emails (which include bank statements and receipts) performed well, while the Social Networking (which includes notifications) and Home (which includes publishers and general newsletters) categories performed poorly during the same timeframe.

Have you experienced a drop in engagement over the last few months? If so, what have you done to combat this downward trend?

If you are interested in how your email program compares to your category or your competition, stay tuned for exciting news about a new competitive intelligence product that allows you to see how you measure up and provides you with the data you need to understand how your competitors’ email programs perform and use these insights to optimize your own program.  Because even though you’re out of school, you are never old to learn and improve.

minute read

Popular stories



BriteVerify email verification ensures that an email address actually exists in real-time


The #1 global data quality tool used by thousands of Salesforce admins


Insights and deliverability guidance from the only all-in-one email marketing solution

GridBuddy Cloud

Transform how you interact with your data through the versatility of grids.

Return Path

World-class deliverability applications to optimize email marketing programs

Trust Assessments

A revolutionary new solution for assessing Salesforce data quality


Validity for Email

Increase inbox placement and maximize subscriber reach with clean and actionable data

Validity for Data Management

Simplify data management with solutions that improve data quality and increase CRM adoption

Validity for Sales Productivity

Give your sales team back hours per day with tools designed to increase productivity and mitigate pipeline risks in real-time